Incomplete understanding of the epidemiology of COVID-19 among Native peoples is complicating efforts to mitigate disease. Rigorously collected data are needed to understand the burden of and risk factors for disease, the drivers of transmission, the range and severity of outcomes, and the duration of immunity in recovered individuals. Native American individuals are likely to have disproportionately high morbidity and mortality from COVID-19 and should be represented in COVID-related research.
Examples of research topics the Center aims to pursue working in partnership with tribal leadership, tribal IRBs, and Indian Health Service include:
- Burden of disease, risk factors, clinical course, and household transmission: These types of data are critical to understanding and mitigating transmission of SARS CoV-2 in American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) communities.
- Convalescent plasma study: This is a medical remedy that has been used for centuries and that could provide a critical stop-gap option for COVID-19 while we’re waiting for effective vaccines.
- Seroprevalence study: Serological data can provided critical evidence to guide policy and preparedness decisions
- Provision of handwashing basins/buckets: We are working with the Navajo Nation to pilot dissemination of handwashing stations, posted with handwashing and other COVID-19 prevention messages in water insecure homes, and measure impacts on disease spread.